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Fanny McCoy has lived in fear and anger ever since that day in 1878 when a dispute with the Hatfields over the ownership of a few pigs set her family on a path of hatred and revenge. From that day forward, along the ragged ridges of the West Virginia-Kentucky line, the Hatfields and the McCoys have operated not withing the law but within mountain codes of their own making. In 1882, when Fanny's sister Roseanna runs off with young Johnse Hatfield, the hatred between the two clans...
Fanny McCoy has lived in fear and anger ever since that day in 1878 when a dispute with the Hatfields over the ownership of a few pigs set her family on a path of hatred and revenge. From that day forward, along the ragged ridges of the West Virginia-Kentucky line, the Hatfields and the McCoys have operated not withing the law but within mountain codes of their own making. In 1882, when Fanny's sister Roseanna runs off with young Johnse Hatfield, the hatred between the two clans explodes.
As the killings, abductions, raids, and heartbreak escalate bitterly and senselessly, Fanny, the sole voice of reason, realizes that she is powerless to stop the fighting and must learn to rise above the petty natures of her family and neighbors to find her own way out of the hatred.
ANN RINALDI is an award-winning author best known for bringing history vividly to life. She lives in central New Jersey.
In the 1880s, young Fanny McCoy witnesses the growth of a terrible and violent feud between her Kentucky family and the West Virginia Hatfields, complicated by her older sister Roseanna's romance with a Hatfield.
I asked my brother Tolbert about our sheep once, why they do like they do, being on the one hand so brave the way they spend weeks a-wanderin' in the mountains, and on the other hand so meek.
It was the time me and Tolbert were sent by Pa to fetch my sister Roseanna home, after she first run off. I was staying with Tolbert and Mary for a spell because my sister Alifair had tried to kill me again. For the third time. This time she held my head under the pump in the yard until I near drowned, because I'd left school without permission. Once before she spilled hot bacon fat on me, which she said was an accident. I had to wear a cut potato bound on my arm for a week. Another time she switched my legs until I couldn't walk. Both times for sassing her. Alifair is the oldest girl, and as such demands respect. And Ma and Pa turn a deaf ear when I say she's trying to kill me. But they know it to be true. Else why would they send me to live with Tolbert for a spell to get me away from her?
The why of it nobody has figured. Ma says Alifair has the light of holiness. Isn't she working at church with the healing group? She hasn't healed anybody yet, but she's darned near killed me. I think she has powers, all right. Evil. But the good part is I get to stay with Tolbert and Mary when Alifair's light of holiness gets too bright. Tolbert is my favorite brother, not only because he cusses a lot in public and gets fined a dollar a cuss for it, but because he likes to dance and sing, and fight, too. His pebble in Mama's prayer garden is always on the side of the damned. It never bothers Tolbert any.
In his house you can read Oliver Twist of a Sunday without Mama saying you'd burn in hellfire forever for violating the Sabbath. And Mary treats me like I was near grown. I know they want me to live with them regular-like. Tolbert asked Pa once if I could. They'd send me to school, teach me to observe God's laws, take me to Sunday Meeting, everything. Pa said no. He doesn't like to let go of what's his.
Anyways, we were riding over to West Virginia to fetch Ro home. Pa sent Tolbert because he's so level in the head, and Tolbert took me because I was close to Roseanna. In this family, being so many of us, the young 'uns sort of attach themselves to an older one. Trinvilla and Adelaide belong to Alifair. Bill follows Bud around like a coon pup.
"Why do our sheep just lie down and get ready to die when they're attacked?" I asked Tolbert. "Why don't they fight?"
"Got nuthin' to fight with," he said. "And they know it."
"It's not fair that God didn't give them anything to fight with," I said. "Most other creatures can defend themselves."
"Maybe God was tryin' to show us that there's two kinds of creatures in this world. Those that fight and those that don't," he said.
"You mean the sheep are like Mama? They'd rather pray?"
"Maybe," he said. "But that don't make 'em stupid. You think Ma's stupid?"
One thing Tolbert wouldn't hold with was my sassing Ma or Pa. Even though he knew they were both wrong about things sometimes. So I said no. Because I didn't ever want to earn myself the rough side of Tolbert's tongue.
"The sheep aren't stupid," he said. "Look how they know to come home after bein' out in the mountains for weeks."
Our sheep come home at least once a month. You open your eyes one morning and there they all just are, come for salt. Pa or one of the boys would give them some, and then they'd be gone again. All on their own.
I was kind of hoping that's the way it would be with Roseanna, that I'd just open my eyes one morning and she'd be there in the bed next to me. I missed her something powerful. "Do they come home only for the salt?"
"Pears to be so."
"For nothing else?"
He looked at me. Tolbert was the tallest and he was fair of hair and eyes, but it was what was in those eyes that held you. He didn't say much. But when he did, you listened. "What's goin' on in that head of yours, Fanny?"
"Well, I just thought maybe they come home because they know they belong here," I said. "And they want to make sure it'll all still be here for them. The house and us, I mean."
"They come home for the salt," he said. "But I like to think that all creatures want to come home sooner or later."
"Do you think Ro will come home, then?" I asked.
He didn't say anything for a minute. Just kept his eyes on the trail ahead, like he does sometimes. "Hope she's got the sense of our sheep," he said.
"Tolbert, why does Alifair hate me so?"
"She doesn't hate you, Fanny. She hates herself. Hates that she's lived twenty-two years and don't know what she's about. Hates that you're just a young 'un and still have the chance to find out. My guess is once she forgets about this healing business and pays mind to that young Will Bectal who wants to court her, she'll be a happier woman."
"Does she have the light of holiness? When she comes at me I want to kick her or bite her. But how can I if she's got it?"
"She's got the light of too much Ma. She should have got out from under Ma's shadow and been married years ago. Ma's a good woman, but she's trying to make Alifair into herself all over. She's got no light and no holiness, and the sooner she finds it out, the better we'll all be. So you kick and bite her all you want to defend yourself. Onliest reason I tell you this is because Alifair's been so hard on you. Not so you don't reverence Ma. You understand?"
I said yes. And since he was explaining things so good I thought I'd push further. "Why do Hatfields and McCoys hate each other?"
He grunted. "I hold it goes back to when Pa lost his sow and his pigs, two years ago. Ma says no, before that even. During The War Amongst Us, Pa's younger brother Harmon was murdered by bushwhackers. Everybody says it was old Devil Anse Hatfield and his Wildcats. You see, in 1863, Virginia's western counties broke away and became West Virginia. When men from that area got to come home on leave, they just didn't go back. They'd been fighting for their own ground, and now it was Union blue ground. So they formed their own Home Guard in West Virginia and stayed Confederate. Called themselves the Wildcats.
"And those were the people, headed up by Devil Anse, who shot and killed Pa's brother Harmon when he came home for a Christmas furlough. Shot him for coming out for the Union."
"So it started with the war?"
"Let's say the war just continued, only in a different way," Tolbert said.
"Ma always said it was the fortunes of war that made the men hereabouts so lawless and disorderly."
"Lawless and disorderly be danged. There's nothing lawless about wanting your own sow and pigs back," Tolbert muttered. Only he didn't say danged. "It's just in the McCoy blood to make right a wrong done to you or yourn. And to uphold the family honor while you're doing it. People around here, for the most part, are very serious about honor, though nobody more than the
McCoys. It goes back to our ancestors in Scotland, who were Highland Celts. That Celtic strain runs right through our blood."
I looked down at my hands holding the reins, at the tiny blue veins I could trace on their backs. I wondered what Celtic blood looked like and how it was different from other people's blood. I liked Tolbert's explanations. They made sense. Especially about Alifair. It was good to know she didn't have the light of holiness. Next time she started on me I'd kick and bite her good. Then let her heal herself and see how good she'd do.
Copyright ©2001 by Ann Rinaldi published by Harcourt, Inc. All rights reserved.
Posted May 10, 2010
The Coffin Quilt is a book about love, family, and one of the most famous feuds in history. Based on true events, this book will keep you wanting more. Being told from a young McCoy's point of view, this exciting page turner about the the Hatfeilds and the McCoys will keep you interested until the very end!
8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I really enjoyed this story. There was so much to like. very good book!
5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 12, 2011
This book is very informative about both the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys, and about West Virginia and Kentucky's history in general. A relationship between two people from the different families opens old wounds in the families, heating things up for a personal war between them all over the mountain ranges. This mystifying and intriguing book has its own flavorfull taste that you can enjoy again and again.
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 30, 2012
I very much enjoyed this book! It was very well written in my opinion and stuck very closely to the historical facts that I have read concerning this feud.
The only thing I am kind of confused about is other reviews of this book saying there was too much killing for their liking and the people involved were portrayed as hateful, evil, and other such things. My point is that this was based on historical events and real people, the author could not leave some of the killings out or change what these people did during this historical feud or it would be fiction. Right? My opinion is that if you want to read only a certain amount of violence and really nice people then you should not read a book based on historical facts.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 21, 2012
This book was excellent. I loved reading it with my classmates, and I’m pretty sure they enjoyed it too! It was very well-written, and the events were in really good details.
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Posted May 14, 2012
Why the Coffin Quilt is terrible
Well, first, all the characters made you want to hate them. Fanny was a bipolar, two faced, traitor who couldn’t make up her mind to save her life. Roseanna felt sorry for herself the entire time and threw her family under the bus for the guy that knocked her up. The entire McCoy and Hatfield families were fighting over a reason that no one knows to this day; and would just murder each other over the fact that a few of their ancestors got mad at each other for supposedly stealing a freaking pig! The characters were so un-relatable, and the magnitude of the feud was blown way out of proportion. The book made it seem like the southern hills of West Virginia were painted with the blood of both Hatfield’s and McCoy's. I am from West Virginia and this book paints us in a terrible light. It makes it look like the Hatfields were terrible blood-thirsty people, when in actuality it was the McCoys who continued the feud and lead countless number of raids into West Virginia. I’m sure this is a fine author, but she needed to research a little more about the feud. I get that it was told through the eyes of Fanny McCoy, but still it would have been better if she showed two different perspectives: One from the McCoy side and one from the Hatfields. Oh, and if you can’t already tell I dreaded reading this book.
2 out of 13 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 2, 2011
The Coffin Quilt by Ann Rinaldi is honestly not worth reading. I have formed such a strong opinion of this book because of the painstaking hours it requires to read this book without falling asleep. This disappointing novel takes despicable historical figures, despite one young girl trapped amidst murderers and liars, and then it pits them against each other as the result of a cliché and twisted rendition of Romeo and Juliet.
Despite my perceptions of the book as interpreted via the book teaser on the back cover, the novel was not centered around a happy couple united in forbidden love. Mrs. Rinaldi chose instead to retell the brutality and carnage brought upon by the foolish nature and frequent retaliation of man brought about by minor differences. The appearance of a magical, green, slimy ghost-leopard called ¿Yeller Thing¿ does no good for the credibility of this stories historical relevance either. As mentioned in the introduction, there is only one altogether appealing character. This is Fanny, a youthfully effervescent girl caught between families with no means of escape.
One of the most vitally important elements of historical fiction is the lessons that can be learned from mistakes made by our precursors. The themes in The Coffin Quilt however focus on the negative qualities of human nature such as greed and spite instead of lifting the characters up with moral codes and focusing on humanities more redeeming qualities. The bonds and opinions a reader forms about the characters in a novel are that reader¿s linking to the emotional occurrences within a book, but in The Coffin Quilt the atrocities committed by characters on both sides of the conflict tear at your soul from the first chapter until your mind is numbed to the horrors of death and betrayal and you no longer bear grief for Fanny¿s plights. The dreary rural setting makes any travel between characters difficult which is never practical for a romance or war novel, neither of which this book should be called, lest someone think it historically accurate enough to prove useful in a unit on history. This rip-off of Shakespeare¿s masterpiece is written so poorly that I alternated constantly between being bored half to death and bouts of mourning for those who perished needlessly.
Therefore, I would never recommend this book to anyone because it is a morose tale of tragedy and betrayal fraught with historic inaccuracies, the unheeded calls of a young girl desperately needing help, and entire chapters of meaningless dialogue that couldn¿t even be used to write a children¿s sitcom, let alone bring a young adult novel to life the way dialogue should.
I chose to give this book one star because of its painfully slow plot progression, its lack of logical occurrences, and the fact that you must either react with sorrow or apathy when reading this book.
2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 23, 2012
The Coffin Quilt by Ann Renaldi was a very well written book. About the Hatfield and McCoy fued. It tells the story of a curious, 14 year old girl named Fanny McCoy. This story is an adventurous, and courageous story.
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 23, 2012
The Coffin Quilt by Ann Renaldi was a depressing book. It was especially saddening when Tolbert went to visit Calvins grave. Over all it was a very depressing book.
1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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Posted July 5, 2012
After watching the special on television, I was hoping that this would provide some more entertainment on the subject. Just never held my interest as it was far too technical and not enough story...
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Posted July 3, 2012
What a eye opening book. The book allows the reader to put themselves in West Virginia history. Many emotions seep through the lines. Sadness, waste, pain, anger, and appreciation for what we have now to be thankful for. A must read!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 29, 2012
This book about the Hatfield and McCoy feud was interesting and well written. I was interested in reading more after watching the recent tv miniseries. While the book will state that it is fictionalized, it still followed the timeline of actual events.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 28, 2012
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Posted June 11, 2012
This is a very good story written about a fascinating series of events in American history. I love the interesting perspective using the young McCoy daughter as the storyteller. I would highly recommend this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 7, 2012